This could be a template for YOUR letter to your Mayor, County Supervisor, Congressman etc.
Hon. Eric Garcetti
Mayor, City of Los Angeles
Dear Mayor Garcetti:
Thank you for your support of passenger rail, including the Amtrak National Network. We believe that this system of trains and connecting buses is a great asset, providing essential mobility and links between both urban and rural America. Amtrak was set up in 1971 to provide a national system, paid for by farebox revenue and federal tax dollars. Amtrak is carrying record numbers of passengers on ALL its routes, many of which serve communities where there are no longer alternatives such as local air service or intercity bus. Many people choose rail, even with a longer journey time, because of the greater comfort and on-board experience, and many people simply have a fear of flying.
We know that Amtrak is not a profitable operation. We do know that most public support goes to maintain the expensive infrastructure of the North East Corridor (“NEC”), which Amtrak had foisted on them in 1976, (no one else wanted it!) We also know that the State supported corridors are either a break even or profit center for Amtrak. The National Network of long-distance trains are a bargain for the taxpayer and represent about a third of Amtrak’s business. Without them the States would be paying far more for their corridor services, especially California.
Amtrak management, using metrics and policies based on airline experience, has recently decided to destroy this National Network and replace it with disconnected corridors, paid for by the States. They recently outlined this to Congressional representatives from Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas. Amtrak plans to discontinue through train service between Los Angeles and Chicago and use buses between Albuquerque and a location in Kansas to be determined. Furthermore, Amtrak is demanding State subsidies for the residual parts of the route. We should not pay twice for less service.
Recently retired Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman has just issued a statement with the same message. By cutting on board dining and other amenities and failing to invest in locomotives and coaches for the past twenty years, they are deliberately downgrading the service and driving away customers. We believe they are doing this in attempt to squeeze more money from the States, to fund the backlog of infrastructure projects on the NEC. The NEC is important, but not at the expense of passenger rail for the rest of the country.
We believe that investment in and improvement of the national system is the way to go. California can build the locomotives and passenger cars needed to expand and replace the existing fleet. A positive approach from a new Amtrak management team will attract more business, including tourists, as well as a growing population of retirees. Travel is a growth industry!
Please tell our State congressional delegation, especially our Senators, to work to maintain the National network and stop the break up of Amtrak.
Paul Dyson, President. 818 371 9516 firstname.lastname@example.org